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NBA Barometer: NBA Barometer-Week 23

Charlie Zegers

Charlie has covered the NBA, NFL and MLB for RotoWire for the better part of 15 years. His work has also appeared on,, the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports and Yahoo. He embraces his East Coast bias and is Smush Parker's last remaining fan.

The Barometer
By Charlie Zegers
RotoWire Staff Writer

Before you read the rest of this column, go put in a waiver claim on Brandon Bass. Hurry. I'll wait.

All set?


Now then... unless you've been in deep seclusion due to the fact that you had Duke, Georgetown and Pittsburgh in the Final Four, you know that Dirk Nowitzki suffered a "lower leg" injury during Sunday's game. As of Monday afternoon, that Bill Belichick-ian diagnosis has been clarified – Nowitzki has a high ankle sprain and a knee sprain. As you know if you read Jim Russo's "In Street Clothes" column here on RotoWire, a high ankle sprain is bad news. To quote Mr. Russo:

A high ankle sprain is more severe than the ankle sprains you typically see because it involves not only the stabilizing ligaments on the inside and outside of the ankle, but also the syndesmotic ligament, a circular shaped structure which wraps the distal end of the tibia and fibula, the long bones of the lower leg. When the ankle rolls severely, it can stretch this ligament causing those two bones to separate to a small degree. It's not much but the swelling and pain is extreme and the ankle becomes unstable.

Now I'm not much on book learnin' – but based on that explanation and the official diagnosis, it seems to me that the initial report that Dirk would return in two weeks is a bit aggressive.

That's exceptionally bad news for the Mavericks, who are currently perched in seventh place in the Western Conference, just a half-game ahead of the Warriors and two games in front of the ninth-place Nuggets. Making matters worse, Dallas has a very tough schedule down the stretch. Here's a list of the games they'll need to play while Dirk-less:

- 3/25: Clippers
- 3/27: @ Nuggets
- 3/30: @ Warriors
- 3/31: @ Clippers
- 4/2: Warriors
- 4/4: @ Lakers
- 4/6: @ Phoenix

And that's if the "two week" estimate is for real.

The Mavericks still haven't beaten anyone good since acquiring Jason Kidd at the trade deadline. And suddenly it looks like a real possibility that the Mavs will be sitting at home in the postseason, while Devin Harris and his new team get a little playoff run.

Isn't it ironic?

Mark Cuban is so mad, he's about to ban another blogger from the Mavs'clubhouse.

Around the League:

Every week, we'll use this space to track players whose fantasy value is improving, declining, or uncertain. We're not particularly concerned with hot or cold streaks - all players toss up a 2-for-10 every now and again - unless they are extreme or seem to indicate an underlying problem or injury. Instead, we'll be looking at changes in playing time or role or skill level. Comments and questions are always welcome - just post 'em on the message board at the bottom of this page.

Stock Up

Brandon Bass (DAL): If you've read the article to this point, you've already put in a waiver claim on Brandon Bass. Nice job. Bass figures to get the biggest playing-time boost due to Dirk Nowitzki's injury… and though he won't be able to cover all of Nowitzki's scoring, it wouldn't surprise me to see him post regular double-doubles as a fill-in.

Josh Howard (DAL): With Nowitzki out, Howard moves up from being option 1a to option 1 for Jason Kidd's passes – he should see a boost to his numbers as a result.

Jerry Stackhouse (DAL): Another Maverick who will be asked to do more with Nowitzki on the shelf – and Stack has the added benefit of actually being available in a lot of leagues. He had a team-high 19 in Sunday's game.

Gilbert Arenas (WAS): Agent Zero participated in Washington's morning shootaround on Sunday, but wasn't cleared to get into the game. That could happen any day now, so keep a close eye out for updates. The Wizards are off Monday, then kick off a West Coast trip with back-to-back games in Portland and Seattle on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Brent Barry (SAN): Barry's league-mandated 30-day exile is over, and he's re-joining the Spurs. Look for him to pick up where he left off before the Kurt Thomas trade, as an excellent source of threes.

Spencer Hawes (SAC): Veteran Brad Miller has been battling a host of minor injuries for months now – it only makes sense that the Kings would give Hawes a chance to show what he can do in extended minutes. The rookie started for Miller on Saturday and posted 19 points and 12 rebounds – he should be a nice play for the last couple of weeks of the year.

Caron Butler (WAS): Butler (wrist, hip) had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in the Wizards' 95-83 win over the Pistons on Sunday. The wrist injury that he suffered last week seems not to be a big problem.

Check Status

Pau Gasol (LAL): The target for Gasol's return is Wednesday night's game against Charlotte, with a fall-back option of Friday's game against Memphis.

Ron Artest (SAC): Artest has been slowed by a variety of injuries – most notably to his elbow and knee. One of the tougher players in the Association, Artest is not one to miss games lightly – but with the Kings well out of the race, they can give him a little extra time to heal and play John Salmons, Francisco Garcia or both.

Beno Udrih (SAC): Udrih has missed three games with a sore back and is questionable for Monday's game. Anthony Johnson will replace him if he's unavailable.

Nate Robinson (NYK): Robinson left Friday's game with a knee injury and missed Saturday's loss to the T-Wolves. Some suspicious New York media types are suggesting that this is part of a scheme to improve the Knicks' draft position – we think it would make more sense to fake an injury to Jamal Crawford or David Lee if that's the case. Either way, Robinson is out and Fred Jones is in, at least temporarily.

Stock Down

Carlos Delfino (TOR): Delfino has played an average of just over 12 minutes in his last five games. A possible reason: he's hitting the rookie wall. That's odd, but not unheard of, in a fourth-year player – he was never used much in three years with the Pistons, and isn't used to the workload he's carried this season. The Raptors may be trying to "freshen him up" for the playoffs.

Brad Miller (SAC): Miller is suffering from bursitis in his left elbow and a bunch of other nagging injuries. Look for him to play sparingly – if at all – down the stretch, as the Kings get an extended look at Spencer Hawes.

Nene Hilario (DEN): An Associated Press report states that Hilaro will not return this season – though we're not sure how much credence to give this report; none of the major Denver newspapers have confirmed the news. The Nuggets' center has been out since January while being treated for testicular cancer.

Article first appeared on 3/24/08